Achilles' tendon injuries

The Achilles' tendon is the largest tendon in the body, stretching from the bones of the heel to the calf muscle. You can feel it - a band of tissue at the back of your ankle and above your heel.  The tendon is stretched during "pushing off" exercise such as walking and running.

Tendons heal slowly because blood supply to them is generally poor. So activity to improve blood supply will help the tendon healing process.


Until recently Achilles tendinopathy was referred to as Achilles tendonitis. However, research has found that this type of injury does not involve inflammation and is most likely due to a series of micro tears (or tendinosis) that weaken the tendon.

There are a number of possible causes leading to an excessive loading on the Achilles, including:

  • A sudden increase in the intensity, frequency and duration of activity
  • Inadequate warm up, stretching and cool down or a decrease in recovery time
  • Wearing inadequate or incorrect footwear
  • Running on hard or uneven surfaces, or change of surface
  • Poor muscle flexibility (e.g. tight calf muscles, weak calf muscles)
  • Decreased joint range of motion (e.g. stiff ankle joint)

Tendon tear

An Achilles tendon rupture is a complete or partial tear that occurs when the tendon is stretched beyond its capacity.  Forceful jumping or pivoting, or sudden accelerations of running, can overstretch the tendon and cause a tear.  An injury to the tendon can also result from falling or tripping.

Other injuries

Two less common Achilles injuries are:

  • Peritendinitis - inflammation of the tendon sheath
  • Bursitis- inflammation of the bursa

SportsMed TENS therapy

After a diagnosis of tendinopathy, tendon tear, bursitis or peritendinitis your injury management plan should include treatment as often as possible.

SportsMed is the TENS, ECS and EMS machine we suggest to aid repair of an Achilles' tendon injury.

SportsMed electrotherapy can be used everyday - outside the clinic - for drug-free, on-demand pain relief. It is also designed and programmed to aid circulation, reduce inflammation, hasten healing and help with calf muscle strengthening.

  • RELIEVE mode:
    • Pain relief (modulated low and high frequency TENS; continuous, comfortable intensity)
    • Early stage injury treatment (modulated low to medium frequency ECS; continuous, low intensity)
  • RECOVERY mode - injury healing
    • Later stage injury treatment (modulated low to medium frequency EMS and ECS; surging, medium intensity)
  • EXERCISE mode - muscle strengthening
    • Rehabilitation stage (high frequency EMS; surging, medium to high intensity)

Pad placement - Achilles' tendon

achilles electrode placement

SportsMed treatment guide

Purpose ModeIntensity TimeHow often
Pain relief RELIEVELow to medium Minimum 60 minutesOn demand
Muscle soreness RELIEVELow Several hoursDaily for 1 or 2 days
Scar tissue RELIEVELow Several hoursDaily as needed
Soft tissue healing RECOVERMedium 10 to 20 minutes3 times per day
Circulation RELIEVE or RECOVERLow 60 minutesas often as needed
Rehabilitation EXERCISEMedium 5 to 15 minutes3 times per day
Rehabilitation EXERCISEMedium to high 10 to 20 minutes3 times per day
On RELIEVE mode – muscles should not contract or twitch
On RECOVER mode – muscles should contract, mildly
On EXERCISE mode – muscles should contract, mildly or strongly – as required
TENS and EMS machine for Achilles tendon

Injury page links

SportsMed TENS, ECS and EMS
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